I'm soon going to be a graduate student in the US of A. I have my Visa ready; and my airline tickets have been blocked. All hope of a financially rewarding next-four-years has thus faded away. I would have to choose to live a spartan life in the US of A, after all the material deprivation I went through at IIT!
All of us are going to be PIGS in the US. That's not something to feed good about; PIGS does not stand for Pretty Indian Girls here. It stands for Poor Indian Graduate Student. How I wish it were the former, for I shall definitely room in with PIGS!
People from all around the world have told me that drastic measures are to be taken if one has to survive in the US. Belts have to be tightened, cornflakes have to be eaten and jewellery has to be pawned. Enligtened by abundant advise, I have come up with some plans. I hope this checklist will help other graduate students.
1. Skip a meal a day. Who says we need lunch? We're all too fat anyway. The loss in nourishment can be made up for by eating biscuits in department stores before they are billed. Some additional money can be made by pointing out to the clerk that the packets are open. This approach saves some water and some detergent powder which is used to wash plates.
2. Live in darkness. If the cave man could do it, why can't we? Any light (for emergencies, such as going to the bathroom) can be generated by procring a bag of light-worms. Alternatively, the roommate can be requested to bang flintstones together.
3. Don't use underclothes. If people can't see them, they'll assume you have them on. (Of course, the attire should be chosen tactfully, especially if the subject is a woman). This approach saves on the washing powder as well as the apparel bill. Stares from sexual predators (both male and female) might count as negatives for the finnicky.
4. Light your house up with the phoneline. You see that LED on the phone? The one that glows when someone tries to call you? Well, you could have someone call you when you're reading - and put your book under the light so that people can read. A method to use the phone-electricity that you don't pay for - to run the A/C eagerly awaits conception.
5. Wear only one shoe: After all shoes are there only to keep your feet warm. If your other foot feels cold, then you can change the foot the shoe is on, until this foot, in turn feels cold. This can halve your footwear bill.
6. Buy baggage that you can fit in: This way, you can Fed-Ex yourself to India for $30, roughly an $670 saving over a ticket to India. The catch, of course, is that good deals are not available on round trips in Fed Ex. And the $30 offer holds only if you weigh less than 1/2 kg. I'm not sure, but I think I overshoot that limit.
7. Drink Black sewage water: Coffee is costly. You just need to show others you're having black coffee, and nothing else. Sewage, when conditioned appropriately can look at taste like some cheap brands of coffee. And surely, you won't sleep after drinking it. Human disgust will see to that.
8. Use Animal Power: We could try using bullock carts to get us to class. In Texas, it would be prudent to replace the bullock with a road runner or something. It even goes beep-beep. If that's too disconcerting, an armadillo cart would be a nice change.
I hope that this list has helped enlighten my fellow students. It is important not to lose heart - a really good time can be had even when in utter penury, if the above tips are followed with sincerity.